Friday, June 10, 2011

Measuring Teacher Effectiveness: Are We Creating an Education Nightmare?

Patricia Deubel
June 8, 2011

We seem to be setting ourselves up for disaster education. Efforts are underway not only to adopt value-added models to rate the effectiveness of individual teachers, but to use these models to identify those at the very bottom who might later lose their positions and those at the very top who might then be eligible for merit pay. Yet in all the policy discussions and public commentary, there's been little focus on learners and on how, precisely, we define the qualities of a good teacher.

The movement to revise methods for teacher evaluation to include such models came about in an effort to undermine current evaluation systems that tend to rate most teachers as satisfactory (Hull, 2011).

Educators are concerned because their evaluations will be tied to results of their students’ standardized testing, which are used in value-added calculations, while other factors, such as experience and training, are diminished. There's concern that the increase in testing that will be required to use those models to rate all teachers might come at the expense of learners, taking the joy out of learning and making it boring, as President Obama pointed out ("Remarks," 2011). And there's concern about our lack of agreement on what it means to be an effective educator.

The need for highly effective teachers is a given. But when, as part of the discussion, I heard policy makers and business leaders proclaim that experience and advanced degrees do not necessarily matter in teaching (Strauss, 2010), I took a look at my own career--which began about four decades ago--and concluded that I do not agree. Questions came to mind regarding the nature of teaching and to what degree value-added models could really help school districts identify teacher effectiveness to merit changing existing compensation systems that have traditionally been based on experience and degrees.

Read more HERE.

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